Last Sunday, the United States observed the tenth anniversary of 9/11. This day, September 11 of 2001, remains etched in the hearts and collective minds of not only the Americans but the people of the entire world as a very sad day– a day that forced the world to lose its innocence. In the past,there have been wars and famines and calamities of all kind. But the magnitude of a man made terror that fell on innocent people on that day is mind boggling. Nearly three thousand people lost their lives in New York, Washington D.C. and Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Unlike Japan’s bombing of Pearl Harbor the terror was perpetrated by not a State but a collection of men wedded to destruction and mayhem. The name of their organization was al Qaeda. In the last ten years al Qaeda has violently struck every continent. As a result, now every country has to look over its shoulder to determine whether there is a planned attack against it lurking somewhere on the horizon. Airlines around the world have to take extra caution to provide safety to their passengers. Governments have to provide extra security at terminals. The public has to suffer layers of security checks. And the list goes on. In the name of Islam al Qaeda is spreading violence everywhere that has come to a boiling point. Because of the incessant efforts by the members of al Qaeda to acquire and use biological, chemical, nuclear and conventional weapons the world faces a challenge of being torn into shards in numerous ways at any time. It is not the destruction alone but the underlying hatred and harm that poses the greatest threat to mankind. A fight against the al Qaeda forces has led to numerous wars in recent years. In the intervening period, Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen have become ablaze in the fires of war. The Government of Pakistan with its dubious policies is creating war like situation at home. And at the same time it is suffering from the impact of war as well. Civilians are being killed. Bombs are being dropped on farms and farm houses in Pakistan; the entire country seems to be in turmoil. Next door India is suffering from the attacks on its civilians. The money it could spend on bettering the lives of its people, it is spending on security apparatus. Still, the country does not seem to be secure enough. The terrorists are attacking the country in random. Last week, they struck New Delhi. In a sense 9/11 has become a defining moment in our time. Given the prevailing violence around us we are now trying to reevaluate our sense of privacy. For the sake of safety we have become willing to undergo external invasion and intrusion on our private persona. We have willingly given an extraordinary amount of authority to our Government to act against us by snooping on us. The intrusion has made citizens stronger with resolve. At the same time it has made them weak and vulnerable. Both at the same time. Since 9/11 many of the al Qaeda figures have been captured and killed. Notable among them is its founder Osama bin Laden who was shot and killed last May in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Obviously the organization, after its leader’s death, has become weaker. Yet, no way is it finished. Its lethality continues to pose a threat as many of its members continue to plot against stability and order. Its ideological attraction continues to lure many youth. For various governments and civic leaders, keeping the Muslim youth from the clutches of al Qaeda has remained one of the most vexing problems. Before al Qaeda came into the picture, suicide bombing was almost unknown. Now this method is liberally used everywhere and in this murderous act the killer also is killed. Since 9/11 there have been numerous suicide bombings and their psychological impacts continue to fester. In an open society such as India and the United States this kind of murderous acts are hard to stop and there seems to be no easy way to prevent them. This is the reality and the world has to deal with it for many more years to come.

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